I love to experiment with my photography. And if you follow my blog you know one of my favorite spots to spend my down time is in the beautiful Florida Everglades; so why not combine the two? I was there over Memorial Day weekend and invited my camera buddies down, however I know this place isn’t for the faint of heart, the elements (hot & humid) and the bugs (mosquitoes) are voracious. The ones who showed up are not fearful of the elements and wanted to learn something new, as this adventure is definitely not for those who are intimidated by the outdoors. We met up around 7pm and took off down a very long dusty road within the Big Cypress National Preserve. The temperature was quite warm and humid due to the rain earlier in the afternoon, however the sky was clear unlike earlier in the day when I had scouted out the area.
We arrived at our destination, and proceeded to set up “shop” with tripods, remote triggers and this wonderful object called a Thermacell! The Thermacell was our lifesaver when it came to being basically mosquito free for the entire night.
As the sun set and the stars began making their first appearances, those who had never seen this site were in awe of the majesty it provided. Then came the Lightning Bugs; in a few of my photos you can see them skittering across the grasses.
We knew the direction of the rising Milky Way Galaxy because someone in our party had an app which told us when and where; of course this is why we were there, to photograph the Milky Way in complete darkness. We almost accomplished that feat except it’s rising in the south, south west sky and Miami was throwing off quite a bit of ambient light.
While waiting for the galaxy to rise, we did a bit of light painting and my photographer son Tommy Owen wanted me to photograph him with a really bright flashlight and we came up with this Star Wars type image.
I’m not entirely sure what that yellow streak is toward the left of the photo, possibly a plane heading for Miami International Airport. The orange glow is the aforementioned Miami.
I learned a lot as did my photographer friends. None of us had ever attempted astrophotography and we found it quite a challenge. We found in the dark we really needed a red gel flashlight to see our settings and we need to find a way to turn off our backlit screen. We also found that too long of an exposure (over 30 seconds) would create the beginning of star trails, and make our stars appear more blurry. We all did concur in the end that it didn’t feel as if we were out there for four hours and we all want to return in the fall/winter when the humidity will not require us to wipe down our lenses every few minutes and the sky will be crystal clear. It was a fun evening and we were able to come up with some usable images, but will still need a bit more practice.
My take away on all this is to keep growing and practicing and learning new techniques. It will keep your mind active and improve your creativity and it’s FUN.
Thanks for stopping by!